5 Environmental Tips for Photographers.

1. Buy Used Gear

This alleviates the constant flow of new gear entering the market. It also lengthens the time materials are used and not discarded. Too often photographers get caught up in buying the newest, best, and shiniest camera's and consequently their skill often doesn't scale with the amount they spend.

2. Use Equipment Extensively then Repair or Recycle

I'm relatively easy on my gear but I do know other professionals who are somewhat careless with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Of course, accidents happen to all of us and once one does, rather than throwing it out or replacing it, repairing it will again aid in preventing those materials ending up in a landfill. Worst case scenario, drop it off to be recycled.

3. Print with Eco-Friendly Material

One of my favourite parts of the photography process is printing my work. With that being said the materials and ink used the produce stunning wall art is not always the easiest on the environment. I still have yet to find a Canada based company who offers recycled material printing or environmentally friendly ink, and due to this, the amount I'm printing has subsided.

4. Don’t Geotag

By visiting uncommon places it prevents the promotion of already heavily trafficked tourist destinations. In addition to lessening foot traffic in common places, you can bring awareness to the subtle beauty that is found everywhere. When posting on social media with a large following do your best to avoid geotagging specific location so there isn't an unsustainable influx of people.

5. Shoot Local

Personally, this tip has been one I had to learn after doing plenty of travel. I'm definitely not suggesting to entirely cut out travel, but participating in a way that doesn't use excess transportation seems important. By photographing your local environment you become more aware of how to share what it close to you. Learning how to communicate what has formed you and how you view the world is not easy, which is why as a photographer it will push you to change your perspective on scenes that are all too familiar.

Thanks for reading and if you have any other ideas I'd love to hear them! It would mean a lot if you sent this to your other photographer friends so we can all work towards using our craft in a way that promotes sustainable practices.

Another Adventure Brought To You By Paul.

I'm a pretty strong believer that there should be people in your life who break your comfort zones on a frequent basis. Now the majority of my friends consistently create these scenarios in my life, and I’m not complaining, but Paul tends to do this more than most. The images below are from our 'short 2km hike to a gorgeous hot spring' that we did at the beginning of winter. Now if you’re familiar with any of my other escapades with Paul, you’ll know that his descriptions of difficulty and distance leave much to be desired. Immediately, I should have known to double the distance and maybe even triple it. In addition to the drastically undermined length of this hike, I should have really taken into consideration the difficulty when he was packing long rope and seemingly over preparing for a basic hike. I mean judging by his description of the end goal being a hot spring I just assumed any city girl wanting a new Instagram photo could easily navigate their way to this location. In one way it’s accurate because there is a pretty well-defined trail. It isn't until we reached the saddle between the two mountains where I really started to contemplate the simplicity of Paul’s description.

As we stoically stood, catching our breath, the arduous next few kilometres were right in from of us. Due to the immense amount of wind, the paths from previous people hiking to the hot spring were completely covered. We waited for a few fellow hikers on the trail to pass by so we could proceed along the uncomfortably steep trail that was sheltered from the wind. We wrapped around the corner that you can see Paul and Celine posing on when the wind really decided to escalate my trepidation. The four of us hesitantly made our way along the side of the snow-covered shale and then Sam (Paul's wife) slipped and began sliding down. She managed to dig her feet into the icy snow to slow her decent but we were all stunned. In the exact same spot Celine proceeded to do the exact same thing and then I think Paul might have just done it for fun. Regardless all three of them were not 50 feet further down the mountainside than I was and to their fortune, a little closer to our destination.

After walking a few more kilometres since the saddle, we arrived at the hot spring without any additional company. I didn't get in the water due to some sort of phobia of being wet for non-utilitarian purposes but it was exceptional being able to observe a serene and relatively unknown landscape. After everyone had time to soak in the warm waters and dry off in the relentlessly cold wind, we began hiking back for home.

Just this past long weekend we had the pleasure of hanging out with Paul and Sam again where more adventures occurred. I'll be posting about in the upcoming weeks so thanks again for reading and it would mean a lot if you shared any of my work with someone you think would enjoy joining in the journey.

The Concept of 'Fun.'

What does fun mean to you? Take a minute and think about it, deeper than mere activities.

I’m entirely unaware of what might have just passed through your mind and that idea alone is fun for me to ponder. Somewhat of an odd statement, I know. For some time I’ve been perplexed by the concept of fun. Often mutual confusion occurs when various concepts of fun are exchanged. Currently, I have no desire to experience an adrenaline rush. I’m not sure if many young people are aware but that chemical release occurs in order for us to survive during dangerous situations. I can't help but ask, why would one desire for that mechanism to kick in?Honestly, I don't know and the idea of it is already exhausting me.

The irony of this topic is that the majority of my friends yearn for such a chemical rush to infiltrate their bodies while undergoing dangerous activities. In an attempt to be a good friend I try to engage in some of the activities but I simply become drained during the time of adrenaline endorsed activity. What really excites me is knowing I'm pushing myself outside my comfort zone and learning to adapt to adversity. I'm sure people affirm the same thing while searching for the next adventure, although I think it might be a little different. My primary reason is that it seems as though there are two contrasting sides; the intelectual and physical. You can observe this balance perfectly when watching high-level athletes perform. They are forced to react perfectly on a physical level, as well as, to be mindful of the upcoming play. Personally, the mental part of sports and even video games are what I find exhilarating. Testing the intellect of others and myself in a way that brings about an unexpecting competition is what I can only describe as fun.

I'd love to hear how you perceive the cultural luxury of fun. The photos below are from an extremely windy day of skating in the middle of Two Jack Lake. Enjoy!

What Makes an Image Matter?

The idea of posting new imagery week after week is perplexing. If I’m creating photos for nothing more than aesthetic satisfaction or social media ‘likes’ then what value does my work have? I desire for the materialization of changing reality through my photography. I’m unsure of what that looks like, primarily because I observe it from so many other greats who have come before me and display or share the stories in ways that genuinely brings change to our world. Immediately, I think of Paul Nicklen who has some of the most mesmerizing photographs of wildlife and consequently has made enormous strides in various conservation efforts.

Of course, I don't expect my work to reach the masses to the extent he does but I can't help but contemplate the insanity of repetitions when my work is currently lacking the motivation to insue action. You might be thinking that in order to make a change one needs to have patience and continually be in pursuit of the next opportunity. I wouldn't disagree and have convinced myself that every time I post something new. The unrelenting paranoia of meaningless work plagues my self-conscious mind. With all this said, the image below of the barn is my most viewed and ‘liked’ piece of work ever and I never would have guessed.

It’s a photo of a barn. I can't say I had any conservation statement to go along with it or an important cause or message that tied in perfectly to bring people into public action. It is merely a quaint image of rural history with no greater voice or vision for the photograph. This leads me to ask the question of whether or not a story or cause finds the image or the image finds the cause? Possibly it’s both. There is the creative part in me that does enjoy making photos that people find beauty in and I’m always flattered by the compliments. My dilemma is why should people care? I don't think beauty is enough to bring longevity to my work and the way social media is set up, brevity is a drug we yearn for.

This year I need to reconstruct the way I create and share my photographs in order for them to have more of an impact. Which means maybe I shouldn't share a post unless there is a complimentary, significant message. I’ll continue pondering this relationship between mere beauty and utilitarian calls to action through imagery. For now, I hope you enjoy the images below while on the road from Bonnyville to Edmonton.

The Voyage to Spirit Island pt. 1.

These images are from a scenery dense 48 hour trip to Jasper that was initiated by my friend Elliot. I had the time off and always wanted to experience Spirit Island. Uncharacteristically, my typical aversion to wild ideas and adventure seemed to be thrown to the wolves at the thought of this incredible location for sunrise. Of course millions of people have been there before on the large tourist boats that ferry groups out all day but only a select few have put in an effort to experience the grandeur of viewing light slowly, seeping over the mountains.

After a few short days of planning, I drove to meet up with Elliot in Jasper the day before so we could pick up the rental canoe and ensure we were still up for a seemingly unwise voyage. For those of you who have no idea where Spirit Island is, it's on Maligne Lake, (enjoy trying to decide how to pronounce that :p) which is about a 40-minute drive from Jasper, Alberta. Something you may not know about me is that when I’m nervous about things I like to show up to them irrationally early. The most inconvenient example of this is when I played soccer in Edmonton and before every game I would get dreadful anxiety that would just escalate during the 2.5-hour drive. Due to this angst, I wanted to be at every game 30 minutes before we even had to get ready and warm up. Anyways, the trend seems to continue because we grabbed our gear for the rental canoe and drove to the lake a solid 4 hours early to ‘scout it out.’ We also hoped to catch the sunset at the lake but that was a flop so we didn't really have anything do from 9:00 pm to midnight when we planned to kick off from shore. At this point, I was still a little nervous about Elliot’s canoeing abilities because I wasn't the most confident in my own. I’ve canoed plenty of times on lakes around my home, however in complete darkness and on a lake where the nearest people are a 40-minute drive away, changes that comfort meter just a few notches.

We decided to attempt at sleeping in the vehicle until setting out. I should have known I would n’t be able to fall asleep so I restlessly pursued the art of fast-forwarding time by reading, walking around outside, and even pondering the plethora of potential, problematic paths we may pursue. Anticipation built and so did the nerves. Whenever there is an activity forcing me out of my comfort zone, especially involving life-threatening elements, I look for anything that might allow me to opt out. Contrary to the desires of my buzzkill subconscious, there seemed to be nothing emerging as an escape. Three hours monotonously progressed to the time for me to wake up Elliot so we could pack our bags and grab the canoe. It was a gorgeous night with an unobstructed view of the stars above.

Once packed, we walked down to the shore to unlock the canoe we rented. Earlier in the day, we had checked to make sure our canoe was in proper condition to keep us afloat throughout the night. Both of us were extremely thankful that we had a canoe that wasn't tipped over or filled with water and sand because half of them were in an unfortunate state. We inserted the key, applied the appropriate amount of force to turn the key to only be obnoxiously met with a key that wouldn’t rotate. After fidgeting with the lock for a minute, we looked at the number and realized we were at the wrong number canoe, which conflicted with what we were told to take at the rental store. Logically, we found the canoe with the corresponding number. It was at this point we had a sinking feeling. Indeed, our canoe was one of the submerged.

Come back next week to continue reading more of our canoe ride, our wild encounter and view the rest of the images from Spirit Island. Following these posts, I'll continue with some images from Athabasca Falls. I hope you enjoyed the read!